Thursday, March 28, 2013

Recipe: Paleo Beef and Broccoli

Seems like a lot of CrossFit peeps are starting up Paleo challenges. I keep seeing it pop up in my Twitter feed, and it dawned on me that I have a fantastically easy, and delicious recipe to share! Why I've never shared this before, I don't know. It was almost Paleo right from the start...

I call it Pepper Steak because that's what my mom called it. But it tastes like Beef with Broccoli, or some other delicious Chinese food dish, just without the creepy stuff that sneaks into the sauces. You could serve this with some riced cauliflower, fruit, salad, whatever...  yum!

Beef and Broccoli


  • 1 lb round steak
  • 1/4 Cup oil (use coconut or olive)
  • 1/2 Cup chopped onion
  • 1 green pepper cut into bite sized slices
  • 1-2 Cups chopped broccoli
  • 1 Cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Red Pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 Tbsp wheat free soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1-2 tsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 clove garlic or equivalent garlic powder


Cut steak into thin slices approximately two inches long. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic, allow to cook a few minutes. Add meat and cook, turning as needed, until browned.

Add onion, green pepper, broccoli, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. I usually use about 2 tsp worth, but adjust this according to your desired level of spiciness, or leave out all together.  Cook over medium heat, stirring, until vegetables are just tender. 

Blend broth and soy or aminos. Stir in arrowroot. Pour over mixture in skillet. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat, stirring constantly until sauce reached desired thickness.   (If you're like me and occasionally make your sauce too thick (arrowroot can be tricky), don't panic, just stir together a little more broth and sauce, and add it in).

Monday, March 25, 2013

Running Lessons...

I just finished Week 10 of half marathon training. Six weeks until race day!  And I have missed exactly ONE workout. Go me, right?

Sunday's distance run was 8 miles, and this week brings me a little bit of a taper before the 10 miler, which will be the first time I've ever run double digits. I'm maintaining a 10 minute mile. It's not the most impressive speed, but I'm OK with it. I'm aiming for endurance. And it's still fast enough to be considered running.

My 7 miler last week was the catalyst for several running lessons. Michigan, like most of the country, decided to ignore Puxatowny Phil and go with 6 more weeks of winter instead. So, I got to run 7 miles in about 3 inches of snow. The snowy spots were soft, a little unstable, but nothing too awful. Some businesses decided to use snowblowers and salt. They are my heroes. But some people decided to do a half-assed job of shoveling their sidewalk. This was actually worse than those who did nothing because my foot would land on half dry ground, half packed snow. Every kick of my leg was a slip and by about mile 3, I was feeling it.  Add to the beautiful conditions my ignorance about hydration. I learned pretty fast that you can NOT run more than an hour without some form of additional fuel.

I made it home, but my left calf locked up on me tighter than my puppy's jaws when she's stealing one of my running socks! I tried rolling, elevating, warmth, and more. It was sore, but I figured I could manage.

I went out for the week's 4 miler... and Michigan decided to drop from the 40s back into the high 20s. About 3 miles in, Abby started pulling toward something across the street. I look back to find a Pomeranian playing in traffic.  Of course, we went to rescue dear Fuzby (seriously?), who quickly taught me that Pomeranians are pricks (sorry if you have one). He was harassing Abby, peeing on EVERYTHING, and in general annoying the heck out me. Worse, while I stood around and flagged down someone who had a cell phone to call the number on Fuzby's tag, I was getting colder and colder. By the time we had returned Mr. Prick to his home, I was chilled to the core.  Off we went on the remaining mile home. And about a block from home, fingers numb, mood cranky, I felt a popping sensation in my left calf!  I walked home and placed my already frozen leg on ice while I sat and debated total and complete panic.

In a moment of clarity, I reached out to the Facebook world for ideas. A friend who just ran a full marathon suggested a few things I had already tried and then mentioned her husband swears by compression sleeves.  I had been icing, using the foam roller, soaking my feet and calves in epsom salts, so with another 4 miler looming, I hunted all over town for some compression sleeves. (hint, try a running store instead of a 'sports' store).  I picked up some sleeves by CEP (Allsports Sleeves) and I am obsessed.  I wore them on my 4 miler, and left them on for quite a while after so they would aid in the workout and the recovery. No pain. I did the same for my 8 miler.. only a teeny bit of tightness!!  No dreaded derailment of training!

The other important lesson of the week.... hydrate!! I wizened up and bought a little water bottle to take with me. Runner's World actually makes one that fit my hand well, and wasn't so large that it would be obnoxious. I filled it with the old standby, Gatorade, and sipped as I ran along.

I picked up some energy chews, but haven't noticed a sure difference. I can't be the only person who finds them miserable to chew, right? Way too thick... and HOW would you chew that while running? I also picked up some Power Bar performance energy blends. Problem fixed, question answered! They are basically fruit smoothies in pouches with extra carbs for burning. Made with real fruit, and gluten free! They taste good and can be used before and during activity. Win. I tried the blueberry banana flavor this weekend, and YUM! (seriously). Plus, no stomach issues or problems. I will definitely be picking up more for the rest of my training and race day!

The only downside? My running buddy seems to have a 5 mile limit, so I still take her on my mid-week runs, but she's been forced to stay home on long runs. And yes, she knows she's missing a run, and she cries the whole time I get ready.

What strategies do you have for long runs? Have you tried compression sleeves?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Recipe: Paleo Chicken Marengo with Roasted Cheddar Broccoli

I am extremely proud of this recipe! On my ongoing quest to recreate my (sadly) gluten-filled, non-Paleo favorite dishes of my childhood, I reached Chicken Marengo. Like with Beef Stroganoff, my family went with the quick n' easy version... consisting mainly of Tomato soup and Golden Mushroom soup.

This one was *not* a first-time hit. It took a few tries... but tonight's version was pronounced...  "blogable".

Paleo Chicken Marengo


  • 1.5 lbs. chicken breast tenders
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 6oz. can tomato paste
  • 4 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder (or two cloves crushed)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 3-4 oz. white mushrooms, diced  (I usually use 3 good sized mushrooms)
  • 1 C. beef stock
  • 1 C. water


In a medium bowl, mix onion powder, salt, garlic and tomato paste. Add 1 C. water and 3/4 C. beef stock. Whisk until smooth.

In a large saucepan, brown the chicken in the olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, onion salt and garlic powder as desired.
Once browned, remove the chicken and pour off the oil.
Add remaining beef stock to still hot pan and add diced mushrooms. Sautee mushrooms in stock until tender.
Add chicken, and pour tomato mixture over. Stir just to mix. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  For a slightly thicker broth, remove the lid for the last 5 minutes of cooking sign. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Roasted Cheddar Broccoli


  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 C. shredded sharp cheddar 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
Put broccoli florets in large mixing bowl, add olive oil and garlic, toss to cover. Add half the cheese and toss well. 
Pour onto lined baking sheet and spread out so florets are not too crowded. Sprinkle remaining cheese on the broccoli. Cook for approximately 10 minutes. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Recipe: Paleo Stuffed Zucchini Boats

I love zucchini. Grilled, roasted, steamed, whatever. Cook zucchini and I'm there. Why I didn't think to make them my main dish instead of a side before now, I don't know!  I can't wait to make this again in the summer when the zucchinis are a bit bigger.

Paleo Stuffed Zucchini Boats


  • 4 large zucchini 
  • 1 lb. chicken breast (I used thin sliced cutlets to make life a little easier)
  • 1 large tomato
  • 4 oz. black olives
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 3 oz. feta cheese 
  • Seasonings as desired (I used oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper)
  • Olive oil to brush on zucchini

Boil the chicken until cooked. I added oregano and red pepper flakes to the water when I boiled the chicken. When done, drain, and allow to cool until it can be handled.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut the ends off each zucchini, then slice in half lengthwise.  Scoop out a channel in the middle of each zucchini, creating a shallow place for the stuffing. Place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Brush each zucchini with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Dice chicken breast, tomato and onion. Slice olives. Add ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Scoop mixture into each zucchini. Don't worry if it overflows!

Roast for 15 minutes, allow to cool, enjoy!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Running Buddy...

My running buddy is awesome. She is always ready to go for a run. Just the word "run" gets her excited and she bounds out the door with glee unmatched by any other runner I've ever met. No weather is too hot, cold, snowy, wet, or otherwise undesirable for her. She constantly urges me to go faster. She's eager to see the world, the other runners, to just keep moving through the outdoors powered by her own feet. She quite simply enjoys the run.

My running buddy is named Abby, and she's almost a year old. She's a Black Lab named mixed with something else that has kept her tiny, powerful, and FULL of energy. She is 50 pounds of muscle, and no run seems too long for her. After 4 miles, all I want to do is stretch, drink water, relax. My running buddy? She wants to chase her ball and do laps around our living room.

Really, how do you say no to this face?

My running buddy is an asshole. She knows that when I put on certain clothes, I'm getting ready for a run. She knows that when I put on certain shoes, we are almost ready. She knows that when she has her harness on, it's time to get out the door! She will bound around excitedly, run to the door and back to me until it is time to go.  Yet, despite this knowledge and this glee, she is a pain in my ass from the start.

She knows her harness means run time. She gets excited as soon as I get it out. And then she fights me for 20 minutes while I try to get it on her. She runs from me, tries to nip my hands (gently), does everything she can to keep it off. Once it's actually on, she's fine, but we better get out the door fast because she is amped!

She runs for the glee of running. The sniffing, the exploring, the fact that we're going on a really long walk, except it's faster!  A run with Abby will include no fewer than two potty stops. Yes, my running buddy regularly makes #1 and #2 in the middle of the run. Right there on whatever course we are using.

She ping-pongs from side to side of the sidewalk, sniffing people, eating snow, investigating telephone poles and trash piles. This results in numerous 2 second stops, several arms being jerked nearly out of socket, and countless urges to "COME ON, ABBY!!"

She will come to a complete stop and when the urge to move forward sinks in, she will charge ahead as fast and hard as she possibly can, taking me from run to stop to sprint all in 5 seconds. She will look back at me, decide I'm cruising just fine, and start to run harder, pulling me along as I fight her to return to speed, "Whoa Abby! Whoa!"  She will stop and jump on my hip, causing us both to stop, and then sprint ahead like it's all a game.

And yet, try as I might, I can't leave her behind. I've threatened her on several occasions, when she fights her harness extra hard. "Ok Abby, I don't care. I'm going without you. No run." She'll inevitably cock her head at the 'r word', and I'll inevitably come back for another 10 minutes of fighting with her, until we're both ready to go face the day's weather.

Annoyed as I get, as much extra effort as the run takes, try as I might, I can't leave her behind. My running buddy runs just to run. She loves to run. She loves every step, every smell. She loves when we return home, slow to a stop, and she gets the pat on the back, a "Good job! Good girl, Abby!" She loves that difficult first step out the door, and she loves the last sprint home. She loves the in between, the new parts of town she's never sniffed. She loves it all.  I don't know when I'll have to leave her. We're going 5 miles today. She's gone 4.9 before. I know at some point, the runs might get too long. I don't know when that will be. But for now, I'm going to keep letting my running buddy show me how to enjoy the run.

Do you run with your dog? How far do you think is too far?  Do you have a harness you like?